Embarrassed by Your Feet – Part 3

August 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Health 

As you may recall, on August 15th I wrote a blog post on Embarrassed by Your Feet – Part 2. This was a follow up to a post back in April 2008 on the same subject. A reporter from the New York Times had interviewed me and wrote a piece on the same subject. The Secret is Out: We Can See Your Feet. As I expected, I received a few comments about embarrassing feet. I share these below.

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This was an interesting and well-timed posting. I’ve recently been involved with auditions for a Gladiator-style TV program. We run the potential competitors through a function assessment, which requires that they take off their socks and shoes.

The first batch of women, mostly runners, multisporters, and adventure racers, were quite comfortable displaying their feet. On Friday we went through to a football club and 99% of the women did not want to take off their socks (we let them keep them on – easier that way). I find it really hard to understand how they can have such issues with their feet! It is so easy to go for regular pedicures and all kinds of treatments. What is their issue really? “Funny” shaped feet? Long toes? Or do they just neglect their feet and so they have skanky toenails? Surely these girls wear sandals in summer? Or maybe not?

I go to dance classes during the week, where we are barefoot. And the girls take good care of their feet. French pedicures, lovely color shades and hardly a calloused heel in sight. Easy to forget in this environment, and that of runners whose feet are so valuable, that others – in the ‘general population’ or coming from other sporting disciplines where feet are forgotten – can have such foot issues.

Lisa de Speville –¬†Lisa’s adventure racing website
Johannesburg, South Africa

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My feet would not be considered attractive by many people (including me), but since they take me to so many fantastic places and on so many incredible adventures, I am grateful to them. Written from Mt. Hood, where we are 190 miles into a 300-mile backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Susan Alcorn –¬†Shepherd Canyon Books –¬†Publishers of two award-winning books: Camino Chronicle: Walking to Santiago and We’re in the Mountains Not over the Hill: Tales and Tips from Seasoned Women Backpackers.

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I am a hiker/walker and my feet do not embarrass me. I have “good feet”. At least that is what I am told by my sister-in-law. I have a few ugly calluses on the outside of my big toes, but I shave them off when they start to cause problems. During my training hikes and walks I have walked up to 6 hours many times and haven’t had a blister yet. I hope that holds true for my upcoming trek across Spain along the Camino de Santiago. By the way, this website has been very helpful!! Thanks, Rita

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Erskien wrote: “No! I have incredibly functional and beautiful feet!

Foot Care Expectations

August 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Health, Sports 

Lets talk about expectations for foot care at races. Yes, I’m back to sharing what I saw at Western States 100 and Badwater this summer.

I saw many runners with crews that managed everything for them – including foot care. These are typically runners who have experience in longer races. They also seem to have some degree of foot care expertise. They will come through an aid station and meet their crew and all is well. If they need foot care, they have the supplies and they or their crew knows how to use the materials. They are prepared.

Other runners were less prepared. They might have had crews, but they didn’t have the foot care supplies, much less the expertise in how to do what they needed. They counted on someone being there to fix their feet.

Many of these runners expect a lot from the podiatrity staff – sometimes, they want a miracle. There are four issues to get past. First, many times there are no “official” podiatrity people at the aid station. No podiatrist anyway. Second, what they get is someone who is maybe a nurse, paramedic, EMT, or even a full-fledged MD, who is volunteering as the aid station’s medical person. Third, often this person(s) has limited skills in fixing feet. And finally, fourth, often they have limited supplies.

At one aid station I watched a person provide podiatrity care and I winced as I saw the tape job he did. He did the best he could but I knew the runner would not make it far. She didn’t. Her race was over 40 miles from the finish line.

So what do you get? You get a person who really wants to help but may be hindered by their limited skills and resources. Don’t fault them if the patch doesn’t work or it feels wrong. You might try and give them directions on what to do – with limited success. The first year I ran Western States, I relied on someone at Rucky Chucky to patch my feet. I ended up with a large wad of gauze on my foot that changed my foot strike and made it difficult to run. That was way back in 1985. Way before I learned about the importance of quality foot care.

What’s wrong here? Your expectations are wrong. You cannot expect every race to have podiatrity people at every aid station, with supplies to fix hundreds of feet. I have talked recently to race directors of two major races and found out that they don’t have podiatrity people. One has medical staff and expects them to do what it takes. The other doesn’t even have medical staff. Is it their job to provide it? Only if they advertise such aid.

Patching Feet at Badwater

Patching Feet at Badwater

This means you should be prepared at any race you enter, to have the foot care supplies and knowledge to patch your own feet – or have crew that knows how. Does that sounds harsh? Maybe so, but you entered the race. You spent money on travel, a crew, food, new shoes, lodging, new shorts and a top, water bottles, and more. But did you spend a few bucks on preparing a good foot care kit?

Why take a chance that I or Denise Jones, or Gillian Robinson, or another skilled foot care person is there to fix your feet? I find lots of runners who have my book (Fixing Your Feet) but I am amazed at the large numbers who haven’t heard of it.

Many of us don’t mind fixing your feet. In fact I love to do it. But we can’t be everywhere – at all aid stations, at all hours, and at all races. Can you do me a favor? Tell some else about Fixing Your Feet and this blog. Make their life a bit easier and help them finish their race with happy feet.

What are your foot care expectations?

Embarrassed by Your Feet? – Part 2

August 15, 2009 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Health 

In April 2008, I wrote a blog post titled, Embarrassed by Your Feet? Here is a quote from that post:

In the field of foot care, podiatrists and other experts are acutely aware that unattractive feet can cause significant emotional angst, driving those embarrassed about their feet to seek a solution. Dr. Nicolas Romansky, a Pennsylvania podiatrist, says that he commonly sees patients who hide their feet out of embarrassment. He says, “There’s a psychological overlay to foot problems, especially with toenails.”

A few weeks ago I received an inquiry from a reporter for the New York Times. Catherine Saint Louis asked for an interview on the subject of people being embarrassed by their feet. We talked one morning two weeks ago. She was very gracious and I enjoyed our chat. Her article came out on August 5. The title was, The Secret Is Out: We Can See Your Feet.

Catherine wrote, “More than 50 percent of women say their feet embarrass them “always, frequently or sometimes,” according to a 2008 study of 500 women by Kelton Research for the American Podiatric Medical Association.” She asked me about that number and whether it differed for athletes.

Here is my response, “Vonhof, who is part of medical teams that patch up blistered feet during grueling races, says he is skeptical that more than 50 percent of women are ashamed of their feet, as the podiatric association study found. ‘If you went into your local running store,’ he said, ‘you would get different numbers.'”

A great looking foot at Raid the North Extreme Adventure Race

A great looking foot at Raid the North Extreme Adventure Race

In fact, here is a photo of a runners foot taken on day four at the Raid the North Extreme Adventure Race in Prince Rupert, Canada. These are nice feet – and I know the athlete is not ashamed of them.

So I asked the question in a running store. In Colorado, while on vacation, I had the opportunity to visit the Runner’s Roost in Lakewood Colorado – it’s a great running store. Sonya Estes, one of the owners, worked with me to plan a foot care clinic. We had about 24 in attendance. They were runners, walkers, hikers, and ultrarunners. I asked the question, “How many of you are embarrassed by your feet.” Only a few raised their hands.

A friend, Heather, email me saying, “I agree with your assessment that runners have a different attitude about their feet than the general population; that is, some of them think “the narly-er the better” as they see it as some sort of weird badge of honor to beat the crap out of their feet when, in actuality, the BETTER their feet look, the smarter (better) the runner.”

She’s a smart lady. I agree with Heather. What do you think?

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